Comprehensive pain management protocol reduces children's memory of pain at discharge from the pediatric ED


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Abstract

BackgroundHistorically, pain has been poorly managed in the pediatric emergency department (ED) (PED), resulting in measurable psychosocial issues both acute and delayed.ObjectiveThe aim of the study was to measure the impact of protocolized pain management on patients with painful conditions or undergoing painful procedures in the PED.MethodsWe performed an analysis before and after the implementation of the protocol, dubbed the “Comfort Zone.” Validated, age-appropriate pain scales were performed. Validation (using Cronbach α, confirmatory factor analysis) was followed by comparison of responses between the pre- and posttests collected (Χ2 and Wilcoxon rank sum tests). Pain scores were collected at triage and at discharge. At triage, patients were asked to report pain levels. At discharge, they were asked to report their current pain and recall the level of pain during their stay. At triage, parents were asked to report about their perception of the child's pain. At discharge, they were asked to report about their perception of the child's current pain and recall the level of pain during the stay and during procedures, if done.ResultsFive hundred thirty-one patients were enrolled in the preprotocol group; 47% were women with a median age of 5 years (range, 30 days-18 years). Two hundred sixty-three patients were enrolled in the protocol group; 39% were women with a median age of 6 years (range, 30 days-18 years). Patient-recalled pain scores of the ED visit in the protocol group were significantly lower than those of the preprotocol group (Wong-Baker Faces Pain Scale, 5.07-4.01; P < .001); yet parent estimates of pain did not show a significant change at any point. Patient assessment of pain at ED discharge did not show a significant change either (Wong-Baker Faces Pain Scale, 1.99-1.56; P = .09). The Faces scale is not well validated for patients younger than 4, so that group had only parental assessment of pain and, consistent with the larger data set, showed no significant pain scale reduction at any point.ConclusionProtocolized pain management reduces patients' memory of pain during PED visits but may not affect parental memory of perceived pain or parent- and patient-reported pain at discharge.

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